Tips to Improve Strawberry Production

They are red and seeded on the outside, fleshy and juicy in the inside. They have this small, regal looking, green leafy cap and stem that adorn its crown. That’s fresh, plump strawberry (Fragaria ananassa) for you. But their fine-looking appearance does not last long. Strawberries are delicate, requiring gentle handling to prevent bruising.

In the Philippines, strawberries are only grown in cool areas like Benguet and Baguio. And for those who love strawberries, this type of cool-loving fruit has to undergo the long travel so that it could still come out fresh for customers in the far cities and provinces.

Unfortunately, problem in transporting continues to hound the strawberry industry. A lot of the strawberry growers in Benguet and Baguio still use the old ways of packing and transporting their products i.e., through rough bamboo baskets and kaing. Thus, postharvest losses are high.

The processing of strawberries such as jams, jellies, juices, and sweets is a good solution to avoid their spoilage. Unfortunately, the industry still lacks the facilities to do this. Most of the processed products like jams are still sold in big containers and bulky bottles making their transport still a big hassle.

Another problem of the industry is the non-availability of varieties suited in the humid areas of La Trinidad. Although strawberries are considered a high value crop, produce remains to be sold in the sidewalks and small booths.

In increasing its production, potential areas should also be established. Planting strawberries could be a good alternative source of livelihood for upland farmers. Growing strawberries could substitute vegetable production in some areas since it is now becoming less profitable due to the coming in of cheap imported vegetables and the growing of upland vegetables in lowland areas, Improving strawberry production through integrated R&D program particularly in Mindanao.

Related to the lack of high yielding and suitable varieties of strawberries, pest and diseases also pose as the leading problems of growers. Until now, there is no protocol on the production of planting materials for strawberry and non-availability of certified planting materials which farmers can use. These contribute to the deterioration of yield and quality of strawberries.

Given this scenario and problems hounding the strawberry industry, the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) has recently supported an integrated program on strawberry, Integrated Strawberry Research and Development Program (ISRDP), with the Highland Agriculture and Resources Research and Development Consortium (HARRDEC) and the Regional Resources Research and Development Network (RARRDEN) as coordinating agencies. The lead agency for this integrated program is the Benguet State University in cooperation with the Bureau of Plant Industry – Baguio National Crops Research Development Center (BPIBNCRDC), Department of Agriculture Regional Field Unit (DA-RFU), Office of the Provincial Agriculturist- Benguet Province (OPA), and the strawberry growers, processors, and retailers.

The integrated program on strawberry comprises of five major projects, each addressing the major problems facing today’s strawberry production in country. These are: 1) varietal development, conservation and production of planting materials; 2) production and postharvest technology assessment and intervention (maturity indices and handling); 3) integrated pest management (mite pests); 4) product development and marketing and; 5) establishment of strawberry databank and technology transfer. The project started in 2005 and continues to 2006.

The integrated program is implemented in consultation with all stakeholders of the industry. Concerned stakeholders include the Research Development and Extension (RDE) sectors, strawberry farmers, processors, retailers (including high end market sector), and consumers.

For the project on Varietal development, conservation and production of planting materials, it hopes to: 1) collect, characterize, and maintain a strawberry germplasm seed bank including seed and runner for local genotypes of strawberries and some foreign collections; 2) identify potential genotypes and hybrids; 3) develop protocol in certification of planting materials and; 4) produce at least 5,000 certified runner planting materials that can be availed of by farmers.

The project on “Production and postharvest technology assessment and intervention (maturity indices and handling)” aims to: 1) identify the maturity indices in harvesting berries for fresh market; 2) identify at least three kinds of packaging materials for pre and post-harvest handling; 3) establish one handling method from harvesting to marketing and; 4) establish protocol for pre-cooling fresh berries after harvest.

For the “Integrated Pest Management (mite pests)” project, it is expected to: 1) introduce an efficient predator of spider mites on strawberry; and 2) develop mass rearing and field release techniques for the predator.

For projects 4 and 5 on “Product development and marketing” and “Establishment of strawberry databank and technology transfer,” the objectives are to: 1) develop and introduce new recipes in the market, particularly low sugar and sugar-free jam and spread, and 2) identify one-serving packaging materials for jam and spread (for project 4); and 1) establish database for strawberry, and 2) conduct promotion for
the industry (for project 5).

The Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) funded the ISRDP in its effort to boost the strawberry industry through R&D particularly on increasing its yield in the local market and improving its postharvest technologies.

For more information on the program, please contact Dr. Sonwright B. Maddul, consortium director, HARRDEC and vice president for Research and Extension, BSU, La Trinidad, Benguet with telefax at (074) 422-1656 or 422-6504 or email at: [email protected] You may also contact Dr. Lita Molitas-Colting, chair of the Fruit KCS and professor, BSU, La Trinidad, Benguet at telephone no. (074) 422-2402 or fax at (074) 422-2281 or email at: [email protected]

Bureau of Agricultural Research
Department of Agriculture
3/F RDMIC Bldg., Visayas Ave.
cor. Elliptical Rd., Diliman Quezon City 1104

Trunklines: 928-8505 or 927-0226
Local Nos. 2043, 2042, 2044
Fax: 920-227 or 927-5691
E-mail: [email protected]
Web: www.bar.gov.ph

source: Rita T. dela Cruz of www.bar.gov.ph

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